What do you want to be remembered for…long after people forget your name?


Ben Hays leading worship at Park Church

What do you want to be remembered for long after people forget your name?

It’s the idea of legacy. And it’s been a topic that has dominated my thinking and my doing in ministry.

What are you doing that will outlast you? When people forget your name (and someday, they most certainly will), what impact do you want them to carry throughout their lives?

Witty jokes probably won’t be enough. Facebook rants probably won’t matter much. Being able to take down an entire 10-pack by yourself at Taco Bell…wait…no…that’s cool…and I would remember you for that…


Maybe it’s less about the events of tomorrow and more about the relationships of today.

We’ve had some truly amazing students come through our ministries over the years, and it has been both a joy and privilege to watch them grow, and perhaps to get to shape their journey even a little bit along the way.

We had the opportunity to visit one of those students this weekend and see him in action leading worship.

Ben Hays’ world was turned upside down while he was getting ready for his freshmen year of high school. His dad took a different job at a different school, and that meant moving from the beauty of Florida to the corn of Illinois.

When they got to Champaign, Ben’s parents were a little sad to watch their oldest son sit around the house for the summer, so they bought him a guitar to keep him company. And the trajectory of his life changed forever.

Ben played that guitar like crazy, and his family started attending our church.

So heading into the fall, Ben decided to audition for our student worship team. And we told him no. He just wasn’t ready.

Now listen, I’ve told dozens of students over the years that they weren’t ready yet. I always give them a speech about how I wasn’t ready either in high school, but I kept working at it, blah blah blah. Unfortunately, many of them get frustrated and move on to something else.

Not Ben. That kid kept playing. That kid practiced his butt off. That kid had the humility to come to rehearsals and sit in the room, playing along with the band without even having his guitar plugged in. [incidentally, that’s the same thing our worship leader did with me in high school when I wasn’t ready]

Ben kept working and working and writing and working.

Eventually we asked him to start playing on the worship team. Then we asked him to start leading the teen band. Then the church moved to a ‘band model’ of worship leaders, and Ben was asked to serve as one for the whole church…as a high school student.

Then God moved his family again, and once more Ben had nothing to do…so he made the most of the time and flourished in leading and writing and recording.

Eventually, Ben started attending Moody Bible Institute and began serving as a band leader at Park Community Church. They came to think so highly of Ben even as a college student that they’re now having him fill in a bunch this summer while they’re working to replace a full-time music director on their staff.

And on Sunday, our family was able to visit and see Ben in action, doing an AMAZING job using the gifts God has given to him.

I invite you to check out some of Ben’s music on iTunes, and you can keep up with his latest musical happenings on Facebook.

I’m incredibly humbled that I’ve been able to write some and speak a few places and do a few musical events.

But the aspect of ministry that will always get my blood pumping is leaving a legacy.

My hope and prayer is that students like Ben will grow up believing that that’s just how things are done, and instinctively, they will look to mentor others when they begin in leadership positions.

Ben has even told me this summer that he’s spending some time with a student who’s working hard to get to lead worship in their church.

That girl will never know the name of some old guy who showed her mentor a pentatonic scale.

But someday, maybe someday…she too will be old, and she’ll share a few things with an aspiring teenage musician. And my life’s dream will be realized.

What do you want to be remembered for long after people forget your name?

Maybe it’s time to start working on it today.

[oh yeah, and I’m totally stealing Park’s really sweet stage background idea…]


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